Starting Strength Weekly Report

December 05, 2016

  • Emily Socolinsky is the winner of the November Under the Bar prize.
  • Swogger's Revenge - Matthew Swogger breaks his back, fails to be paralyzed, and comes back to prove everyone wrong.
  • Back Pain and Back Strength: Why the best way to make a back stop hurting is to make it stronger with squats and deadlifts.
  • From the Archives: Rip on the advantages of the Power Clean.
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From the Coaches

Under the Bar

Rothman deadlifts Dr. Warren Rothman, age 73, deadlifts 197.5# for a single. [photo courtesy of FiveX3 Training]
James Mayer press PR James Mayer hits a PR of 135x5x3 on Press with SSC Grant Broggi in Costa Mesa, CA [photo courtesy of Grant Broggi]
New FiveX3 clients Starting Strength coach Jay Mund works with a couple during their first session at Fivex3 Training. 1 of 2 [photo courtesy of FiveX3 Training]
Matt starts the journey to strong After injuring his back at work, Mike decided he needed to be stronger and convinced his wife to join him. 2 of 2 [photo courtesy of FiveX3 Training]

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Best of the Week

How to determine what research to believe

I know that you have deeply invested yourself in science for your career as a coach and writer. Your knowledge of what is correct has been your success. One of my favorite posts by you on t-nation was about all the flunky "research" being done at universities about exercise science.

I recently read research that suggests that fluoride can lower IQ and can cause reproductive problems. I thought at first that something like that is silly, but the tyrannical government puts that in the water supply, and it made me think that maybe it does have a negative effect on the population.

How can I determine if this is real? How can I tell that this isn't a scam from people that are similar to the ones that claimed that Whole milk is unhealthy so they could sell more soy milk?

Do you think this is a scam to sell more fluoride-free toothpaste, etc?

What about those who claim animal products cause cancer?

How do you yourself determine what you believe?

Mark Rippetoe

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral in the groundwater of some locations. Are the people in these areas more stupid? Are the children who are raised in areas where water is fluoridated suffering from lower IQs than children in other areas, and can the other factors that also affect IQ be controlled for in such studies? Is there a neurogical mechanism postulated that would explain the stupidifying effect of fluoride? Correlation, or cause/effect? Does the effect of stupidity outweigh the cost savings in dental care, and how could these effects be compared? Do stupid people with good teeth earn more money that smart people with rotting stumps in their mouths? Everybody who has cancer is also an animal. Science sure is hard.

Brodie Butland

By actually reading the studies and thinking about them yourself. The data supporting the view that saturated fat causes heart disease has always been dubious, at least in my view...we know this because we can actually read the studies and examine the data ourselves.

Now do that with fluoride. Watch Sully's recent videos about how to read and dissect a scientific study. Find a study (not some guy's opinion on the John Birch Society webpage) that supposedly concludes that fluoride causes lower IQ or unspecified reproductive problems. Look at the data, the methodology, the conclusions, and the process the article had to go through before publication (for example, was it peer reviewed?). See if other studies by different groups have found similar conclusions (i.e., was the data reproducible?). Then do the same for studies that conclude the opposite.

FWIW, I think you'll find that an honest evaluation of the research suggesting that fluoride causes lower IQ are about the same level of rigor as those suggesting that vaccines cause autism. That is to say, not seriously believed by those who honestly evaluate the research.

Just postulating possible conspiracies or relying on your own government-is-tyrannical sensibilities to evaluate research conclusions is not particularly helpful. Industry-sponsored scientific studies can be very credible or very shitty. Likewise for scientific studies by independent or public organizations. Adherence to the scientific method is what determines the validity of a given study, not the scientists involved in it. Science is not flawed, scientists are.

Austin Baraki

In addition to Brodie's excellent post, consider that dosage matters. Everything, including fluoride, has toxicity at a certain dose. Target concentrations for water fluoridation do not typically result in fluoride toxicity (fluorosis), assuming reasonable daily water intake. Blatant disregard for this concept of dosage is incredibly common among histrionic "health bloggers" like the “Food Babe”.

The suggestion that this is all a masterfully crafted operation to sell more fluoride-free toothpaste is laughable.

Best of the Forum

WFAC Cable Machines

Rip, what type of rope do you use in your cable machines? I remember it was some kind of boating line?

Our cables suck and are getting all bent and kinked up.

Mark Rippetoe

It is a kernmantle line used for sailboat sheets. I use 7/16" for the stacks.

We have 3 remnant selectorized machines. Two came from Mike Graham's legendary Texas Athletic Club in Austin, have been used by some very important people in the history of strength training and bodybuilding, and are museum pieces. The other functions nicely as a chinup station.

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